Los Angeles Dodgers

How Giants compare to NL West division rivals after quiet offseason

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How Giants compare to NL West division rivals after quiet offseason

The last big piece came off the board early Monday morning, when Nicholas Castellanos signed a four-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds. 

Castellanos had been a target for the Giants, who now seem likely to head to Scottsdale with Kevin Gausman as their biggest free-agent acquisition of the offseason. That's not unexpected -- it's what happens when you're taking a step back, as the Giants are. 

But Farhan Zaidi has also repeatedly said that he intends to be competitive as late into the season as possible, and the Giants certainly would like to get Gabe Kapler's tenure off to a solid start after the way his hire was received locally. They have plenty of ground to make up to reach that goal, with Madison Bumgarner, Kevin Pillar and other key contributors now gone from a roster that finished 29 games behind the Dodgers and eight behind the Diamondbacks. 

The Giants won't win the NL West this year. Even they would tell you that. But how close can they stay? Where might they actually finish? Here's a rundown of what the other four teams in the West did this offseason and how they're looking as we approach that magical day when pitchers and catchers finally report ... 

The overwhelming favorite: Los Angeles Dodgers

Winners of the division for seven consecutive seasons, there's no reason to think they won't make it eight. The Dodgers lost Hyun-jin Ryu to the Blue Jays and Rich Hill to the Twins, but they keep churning out young talent, a sustainable model the Giants are trying to follow. In Julio Urias, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, they have more than enough young depth to fill out the rotation, and they added a couple of guys who seemed to make more sense for a team like the Giants -- Alex Wood and Jimmy Nelson. Neither is far removed from All-Star caliber pitching and if the Dodgers hit on one of those veterans their rotation again will be a strength. 

Blake Treinen was another reclamation project who made sense for the Giants, but the Dodgers gave the former A's closer $10 million to see if he can find his 2018 form. If he does, the Dodgers may finally solve their biggest problem. 

There was a strong run at Gerrit Cole and a brief flirtation with Anthony Rendon, and the Dodgers reportedly still are sniffing around about a Mookie Betts trade, but ultimately they seem to be betting that they can make their big move in July, and why wouldn't they? The lineup was already a powerhouse and top prospects Gavin Lux and Will Smith are set for a full season. This team should be easily headed for a playoff spot by the trade deadline, allowing Andrew Friedman to take another crack at adding the type of impact talent that can help the Dodgers end a drought that might have ended three years ago if the Astros had played it fair. 

The new rival: Arizona Diamondbacks

For once, the Dodgers won't be the NL West opponent that brings the most intrigue to Oracle Park.

Every time the Diamondbacks visit, they'll bring Bumgarner with them, and there's a good chance the Giants will have to face their longtime ace four or five in 2020. 

There are plenty of reasons Bumgarner chose the desert, and a desire to play competitive baseball is high on the list. The Diamondbacks very quietly won 85 games last year and will count on Bumgarner to lead a young rotation. They'll also lean on Stephen Vogt, who turned a strong season as Buster Posey's backup into a $3 million deal with Arizona. Vogt is as good a clubhouse guy as there is in the game today, and he'll join Bumgarner in taking direct aim at the Dodgers. 

Giving Bumgarner $85 million was the big splash, but the Diamondbacks also signed Kole Calhoun to a two-year deal, adding an outfielder who had 33 homers last season. Hector Rondon, a former closer with the Cubs and Astros, was added to the bullpen, and on Monday morning the Diamondbacks were finalizing a deal for Pirates center fielder Starling Marte, per multiple reports. 

Adam Jones, who had some nice moments for them early last year, is in Japan now, but that's about the only noteworthy loss for a team that traded Paul Goldschmidt last offseason and Zack Greinke in July. 

To add to it, Arizona has acquired outfielder Starling Marte via trade with Pittsburgh to bolster that outfield and give the other Marte, Ketel, a chance to have a permanent position in the infield. 

The end of the rebuild: San Diego Padres

Rival players and officials have been waiting a couple of years for the Padres to finally become what A.J. Preller has envisioned, and they have continued to be aggressive in a bid to end a lengthy rebuild. It was no surprise when The Athletic reported they were after Betts; they're in on plenty of big names these days, but this was a quieter offseason after a couple of previous splashes that brought Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado to town. 

The Padres really could have used hometown kid Stephen Strasburg, but he stayed with the reigning champs. Their big free agency splash ended up being Drew Pomeranz, who sneakily had one of the greatest bouncebacks of 2019. The lefty signed a $1.5 million deal with the Giants, pitched his way out of the rotation, started throwing 97 mph, dominated for two months in Milwaukee, and signed a four-year, $34 million deal to return to San Diego. The new repertoire looked real and sustainable once Pomeranz switched to relieving, but that's still a risky contract to give a bullpen piece. 

The Padres will count on a young rotation -- led by Chris Paddack and potentially top prospect Mackenzie Gore -- but they still could use more consistency here (it'll be interesting to see if Bumgarner opens up about his options; he would have been a great fit for the Padres). Veteran righty Zach Davies is in and lefty Eric Lauer is now a Brewer. 

The lineup will have a much different look. Tommy Pham, an on-base machine, came over from the Rays in a deal that cost the Padres Hunter Renfroe and prospect Xavier Edwards. Young outfielder Trent Grisham was added in a trade with the Brewers, who got second base prospect Luis Urias. The Padres filled that hole by acquiring Jurickson Profar from the A's. 

A Betts deal seems unlikely and the Padres still could use pitching, but they're hopeful this is the year if finally comes together. A healthy Fernando Tatis Jr. would go a long way towards guaranteeing it does. He turned 21 earlier this month, and it wouldn't at all be a surprise to see him standing as one of the top five players in the National League by the end of the summer.  

[RELATED: Could young Giants starters end up in bullpen?]

The mess: Colorado Rockies

How do you screw things up with Nolan Arenado so badly that he's texting beat writers and expressing his frustration with management? That was the highlight of the offseason for the Rockies, who whiffed badly in previous attempts to spend -- Ian Desmond, Wade Davis, etc. -- and basically sat out the last three months (seriously, MLB's official page shows five transactions for the Rockies in December and January and four of them were for players being moved off the active roster). 

The Rockies went 71-91 last year (finishing six games behind the Giants), haven't signed a player to a guaranteed Major League deal this offseason and have a bloated payroll. It's hard to see how this ends with anything but an Arenado trade and a full rebuild. 

Dodgers getting Astros' titles still wouldn't match Giants' decade

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Dodgers getting Astros' titles still wouldn't match Giants' decade

The outrage continues in Tinseltown.

As the fallout from the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal continues, many have called into question the Astros’ 2017 World Series title, a thrilling seven-game series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

With the championship appearing to be tainted by Houston’s systematic tracking of pitching signals, the Los Angeles city council unanimously passed a resolution last week urging Major League Baseball to rescind the victory from the Astros and award it to the runner-up Dodgers. The resolution also included the 2018 World Series, which the Dodgers lost to the Boston Red Sox in five games. Boston remains under investigation for similar allegations.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred pushed back on the idea, pointing to the MLB’s history with not altering the past.

“Whatever the impact of the sign stealing was, it could have changed who was in the World Series,” Manfred said earlier this week on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria." “It’s absolutely unclear that the Dodgers would have been the World Series champion. I think there's a long tradition in baseball of not trying to change what happened. I think the answer from our perspective is to be transparent about what the investigation showed and let our fans make their own decision about what happened.”

Followers of the Giants’ archrival definitely made up their own minds, as they flocked to Dodgers FanFest on Saturday.

Pantone 294, one of the Dodgers’ fan groups, also has organized an outing to the Los Angeles Angels’ home opener against the Astros. The group’s website wants LA fans to flock to Anaheim and “support the team that's playing the game we all know and love the right way!”

Even if by Manfred pulled a complete 180 and decided to not only take away championships from both Houston and Boston, but award them to the Dodgers, they’d still have fewer rings than the Giants have won over the past 30 years.

Nothing got the fans in LA more fired up than watching the Giants bring home three World Series titles over a five-year stretch, firmly cementing them as the NL West's team of the decade.

We all know this isn’t emblematic of every Dodgers fan, as many have voiced their opinion that being awarded two championships doesn't mean anything after the fact, especially when everyone watched them get obliterated by the Red Sox in five games and only score one run in Game 7 against the Astros in 2017.

No matter how many signs might have been stolen, only scoring one run in a World Series game isn't going to get you a win in almost every situation.

Some players, including third baseman Justin Turner, made it clear they aren't interested in receiving a ring that doesn't feel earned.

Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling, however, is cheering on fans choosing to waste their time and money heckling Houston.

“I like it,” Stripling said (h/t Los Angeles Times). “The Dodger fans are fired up. If they want to do their part, and they think that is what it is, then kudos to them. Go do it.

“I know that they’re passionate, and they wanted a championship as much as we did. Obviously, they have still got some fire in their belly to go fight for us.”

[RELATED: Mailbag: Will Beede, Webb be with Giants come Opening Day?]

While the official punishments likely are over for the Astros, it appears they still will be living rent-free in many Dodger fans’ heads all season long.

Meanwhile, Giants fans can sit back and enjoy three, controversy-free World Series trophies residing inside Oracle Park.

LA City Council asks MLB to award Dodgers two World Series titles

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LA City Council asks MLB to award Dodgers two World Series titles

“This crisis goes beyond the sport and the game.”

Those are the words of Gil Cedillo, a member of the Los Angeles City Council, which asked Major League Baseball on Tuesday to revoke the Houston Astros’ 2017 World Series title, as well as the title won by the Boston Red Sox in 2018. The resolution also asks that the Dodgers, who were on the losing end in both series, be awarded the championships.

Houston recently was implicated in an electronic sign-stealing scandal, which now has led to the dismissal of both manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, as well as former Red Sox manager Alex Cora and former Mets manager Carlos Beltran. Both Cora and Beltran were with Houston when the sign-stealing occurred, and were implicated in the report released by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred back on Jan. 13.

The Astros also were docked multiple draft picks and received a $5 million fine, although no current players were disciplined.

The MLB report on the reported wrongdoing by the Red Sox has yet to be released, so there isn’t any proof that Boston engaged in any nefarious schemes during the 2018 season.

While Houston clearly was in the wrong and violated the integrity of MLB, the mere act of revoking a championship, not to mention awarding it to the team that was defeated, would be an unprecedented move in professional sports.

The NCAA, which is far from an organization to be modeled after, didn’t just hand the Heisman Trophy to former Texas quarterback and runner-up Vince Young when it took away Reggie Bush’s award after finding he accepted improper benefits while attending USC.

Politicians have used sports to cull political favor since the dawn of time, including Vice President Mike Pence recently telling the crowd at a Wisconsin rally that “the Green Bay Packers will defeat Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco 49ers!”

In a city with enough homeless to more than fill out the seats at Dodger Stadium and traffic on par with the most overcrowded cities in the world, a governmental body has chosen to focus its attention on a purely symbolic ploy to garner support from Dodgers fans who feel they were robbed of not one, but two World Series titles.

It’s worth noting that the council has not contacted the Dodgers or MLB, and the team has not made any comments regarding the situation with the Astros, per the league’s request.

In a classic case of political grandstanding, the L.A. city council is trying to capitalize on a national scandal to score a few cheap points in the polls.

[RELATED: Mailbag: Who starts for Giants vs. Dodgers on Opening Day]

L.A. hasn’t won a World Series since 1988, and understandably is frustrated that despite qualifying for two of the last three Fall Classics, it was sent home empty-handed on both occasions. Especially when your archrivals in San Francisco captured three championships within the last decade.

My resolution for the L.A. City Council: Get a grip on reality and accept that you aren’t the arbiters of morality. Use your platform to focus on policy that actually matters in the real lives of your constituents, instead of two meaningless World Series titles that everyone who actually watched remembers they didn’t win.